Susilo and Kalla going their own ways with eye on next polls When President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono picked businessman Jusuf Kalla as his running mate back in 2004, it appeared to be a perfect pairing. Dr Susilo, a retired four-star general, was thought to complement Mr Kalla in a perfect military-civilian leadership. But a week after the Susilo-Kalla administration marked its second anniversary, the relationship shows signs of incompatibility as reflected in the slow pace of economic reforms and the inability to reduce the country's massive unemployment of about 10 million. 'The pairing of Yudhoyono and Kalla has not been complementary but instead has resulted in incompatibility,' said Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, a senator and member of the upper house, the People's Consultative Assembly. 'The process of governance has proven to be unproductive. Officials are losing direction, ministers are confused, local governments are also confused,' he said. Mr Sarwono warned that the incompatibility was only one step away from rivalry, especially when the country approaches its next election in 2009. 'If nothing is done to rectify the situation, the whole thing will turn into rivalry because of the looming elections in 2009. This year is the last year for them [Dr Susilo and Mr Kalla] to consolidate and make the government perform. Come next year, people will start gearing up for the elections,' said Mr Sarwono. Sources from the inner circles of both Dr Susilo and Mr Kalla admitted the synergy which once existed between the duo had eroded in recent months. Dr Susilo came to power in the country's first democratic, direct presidential elections, winning more than 60 per cent of the popular vote in 2004. However, his tiny Democratic party holds just 10 per cent of the 550 seats in parliament. Vice-President Kalla, on the other hand, is chairman of the Golkar party, which holds the most seats in the legislature. A member of Dr Susilo's inner circle confirmed that the synergy between the two leaders was lagging. Dr Susilo, he said, was mindful that his vice-president could challenge him for power in the next election. The president, said the source, was also frustrated at having to make political compromises in the event of a cabinet reshuffle. 'He [Dr Susilo] wants to fill the cabinet with professionals outside of political parties. But at the same time, he is under pressure to appoint ministers from political parties,' said the source. Among the parties who are demanding more ministerial positions is Golkar. But Dr Susilo's source admitted the president had sometimes been indecisive and slow to act, pointing to the recent mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, as an example. Hot mud has been spewing from a gas exploration site in Sidoarjo since May 29, displacing more than 10,000 residents. Dr Susilo ordered the evacuation of the people only in September. 'The handling of the mudflow incident disappointed many people,' said the source. The gas exploration site is operated by PT Lapindo Brantas, which is linked to the wealthy Welfare Minister Aburizal Bakrie, who in turn is known to be close to Mr Kalla. 'The president is also frustrated that Mr Bakrie hides behind Mr Kalla,' the source said. Mr Kalla, on the other hand, has been regarded as a decisive person in the handling of several key issues. He negotiated a peace deal for the tsunami-hit province of Aceh. He also gathered the country's leading Muslim clerics last year in his home to fight radicalism and terrorism. The meeting resulted in the clerics declaring suicide bombing is wrong in a country which has suffered a string of terror attacks. A member of Mr Kalla's inner circle said the differences between the two leaders was filtering down to the cabinet. 'The cabinet is now divided into two camps - those who are loyal to Yudhoyono and those who are loyal to Kalla,' said the politician. As a result of divided loyalties, efforts to tackle the country's pressing issues are not optimal. 'The government cannot make a breakthrough in reducing poverty and unemployment and improve health and educational services because of a lack of cohesion.' The number of poor people had gone up by almost four million from February last year to March this year, from 35.10 million to 39.05 million. However, the National Economic Recovery Committee dismissed talk of differences between the two leaders. 'It's just rumours. They are still working as a team,' said Sofyan Wanandi, chairman of the committee. 'The indecisiveness of the president is pushing the VP to do more more on economic matters. He [Dr Susilo] gives assignments to the VP,' said Mr Wanandi. Mr Wanandi also said the economy was picking up in the second half of the year and was on track to achieve the government's target of a 5.8 per cent gross domestic product growth this year.